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A Hidden Musical Surprise

A silver inkstand in the form of a rowing boat
Inkstand (RCIN 49883) ©

Our conservators have restored a tiny musical movement hidden inside a 19th-century silver inkstand. Metal specialists working on the inkstand noticed that the central seal was unusually heavy, and closer examination revealed the miniscule mechanism hidden in its base. The inkstand is the shape of a rowing boat with entwined snakes at either end.

The movement was sent to our in-house horological conservators, who replaced and repaired several tiny parts. Special tools were required to accommodate the object's miniscule scale.

Watch this short film to hear the full story of the mechanism's restoration – and hear it play its music once again.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.